RECYCLING AND REUSING
– Ruth Coulson
(Ruth is with the Australian African Violet Association and lives on the Central North Coast of NSW)
(Originally published on the African Violets Down Under Facebook page.(www.facebook.com/groups/241227626277942/?fref=nf)
Recycling (including reusing) is a word that is heard very often today.
In growing African Violets it can apply to items from the kitchen and elsewhere that might be a new life for the plants, as pots for instance. At the moment we are considering whether you should reuse the various items (pots, potting mix, mats, wicks, water from wick trays and reservoirs, etc.) that make up the everyday life of the plants.
IT IS IMPORTANT TO REMEMBER THE VALUE OF GOOD HYGIENE AMONG YOUR PLANTS.
POTS – of course you can reuse. It is important that they be thoroughly cleaned before doing so, though. This is to make sure there is no chance of pests or disease being carried to the next plant in the pot, and also to get rid of any residual salts from the potting mix and fertiliser.
POTTING MIX – Sometimes the mix that you have pulled off the roots of plants you are repotting looks too good to throw away. Remember though that you are trying for careful hygiene. This mix may look just fine and ready to use on another plant but could be carrying disease or pests even if you didn’t notice them, and in any case will have salt residues that you don’t want. Sometimes people have washed it by heavily leaching and have then pasteurised it in the oven or microwave before using. It is still better discarded, or perhaps used on an outdoor plant that will be washed through every time it is watered. I usually have put it on the garden to leaven the somewhat heavy soil there. Something to remember – a potting mix that another plant has died in is not a good bet to use in any way at all.
WICKS & MATS – if you use either of these in your watering method you need to decide whether you reuse or discard. Wicks that are inexpensive acrylic yarn are probably better thrown out but some more difficult to buy wicks can probably be reused if cleaned thoroughly of roots and perhaps boiled to disinfect. The same thing applies to matting. If you use microfiber cloths or some other capillary matting, you can just put them through the washing machine and dry in the sun. Heavier and less flexible mats can be soaked in a light bleach solution, scrubbed and rinsed before being dried in the sun. Cheaper alternatives are probably better discarded.